Spider-Man and Venom team up to take on a load of symbiotes in a game based on the Separation Anxiety storyline.
This review is based on the Super Nintendo version of the game.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I've never read Separation Anxiety outside of the first issue. That was all I really needed to read to decide that that story was a stinker. Not wishing to buck the trend of a terrible story as inspiration for their game, Software Creations chose this forgettable Venom vehicle as the basis for their follow-up to Maximum Carnage.
There are some immediately noticeable changes in Separation Anxiety when compared to Maximum Carnage. For one, the story is no longer presented with comic book style cutscenes. Instead, the player is shown screens of text which transcribe the events of the Separation Anxiety storyline. Amazingly, they found a way to make the story even less appealing. The final cutscene consists of a single image I won't spoil, but it's really hard to classify it as a letdown without any real reason to be invested in the story to begin with.
Gameplay has been changed to a minor degree when compared to the previous game. Spider-Man and Venom still have all their moves, but they're noticeably smaller. The same can be said for the villains you fight who initially look like the ones from Maximum Carnage, just smaller. Of course, after the first few levels, the street thugs are replaced by a series of guards from, and I'm guessing here, The Vault. The variations between each villain consists of a palette swap and a slightly different moveset. Taking that into account, you're largely fighting the same looking thugs over and over again. They're eventually joined by a few robotic enemies later in the game, but this does little to break up the monotony. The bosses are slightly more interesting as the consist of bigger robots and members of The Jury. You also encounter the new symbiotes who are mostly never heard from again after the Separation Anxiety storyline. I'd say it was a waste to lose the likes of Riot, Agony, Lasher, Scream, and Phage, but that would imply there was anything redeeming about them to begin with. There are also cameos from four support characters: Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Captain America, and Hawkeye. Quite a drop from the last game, but the support characters are still a welcome addition.
A nice addition to the gameplay this time around is co-op. It's perhaps because of that that the graphics have taken such a hit. It's a lot more fun playing this sort of game with a friend and it was nice to see it at least righted one of the few faults of Maximum Carnage. Another improvement is the difficulty which is slightly toned down, and complimented with a larger number of extra lives. This definitely makes the overall experience a lot less frustrating. The inclusion of password system also ensures that you won't be replaying the same stages over and over again if all you're interested in is getting to the end and don't have the patience to play through the game in one sitting.
The environments are a bit more varied than the ones found in Maximum Carnage, and that's further complimented by having a branching paths in some levels. However, the frequent usage of a "Trap Room" between each level can get very tedious.
Overall, it's hard to call this an improvement. For the strides forward it makes, there are so many setbacks that it ends up as a weaker game when compared to Maximum Carnage. The additions that make the game more accessible don't really help when the game itself isn't that much fun.
Graphics - 3 Webs: Neither pretty nor ugly. Certainly not as good as Maximum Carnage though.
Sound - 1 Web: Totally uninteresting. Sound effects are taken directly from the previous game and the music is even less engaging.
Gameplay - 3.5 Webs: It more or less maintains the standard set in Maximum Carnage, and it includes co-op, but the smaller scale and repetitious enemies knock it down quite a bit.
Story - 0 Webs: A poor story that's poorly executed.
Fun Factor - 2.5 Webs: It's hard to really get into this one.
Replay Factor - 1 Web: You may want a change of pace, but you're a lot more likely to go back to Maximum Carnage after playing this.
Aging Factor - 2 Webs: By far not the worst 16-bit game out there, but it does little to really stand out.
Tech Troubles - (None)
Not an awful game, but not a great one either. I may be a little extra harsh, but after Maximum Carnage, I expected a whole lot more.